After receiving clarity from the state on new coronavirus safety guidelines, Pitt on Friday said players would be outfitted with face coverings but not required to wear them against Virginia Tech on Saturday.
The new guidance from the office of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf states that football players wearing masks during games "would likely create a medical issue," making them exempt.
"To provide further clarity, Pitt football student-athletes will be outfitted with face coverings throughout the game," Pitt said in a statement. "However, they will not be required to have the coverings pulled up while in the midst of play to prevent the impairment of breathing. Such usage of face coverings during competition would be in compliance with Section 3 of the Secretary of Health's Face Covering Order."
The Pennsylvania secretary of health issued a new order on Tuesday that stated "coaches, athletes, and spectators must wear face coverings while actively engaged in workouts and competition as well as when on the sidelines, in the dugout etc. unless they meet an exception in the Face Covering Order."
"Section 3 of the Order provides an exception that allows an individual to remove their mask if wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a mental health condition or a disability."
In a statement issued earlier Friday, Pitt said its football team "would be appropriately outfitted for Saturday's game with face coverings to use on the field and sideline" and that "recent guidance from state officials" would be conveyed to Virginia Tech as well.
The wording of the order caused some confusion among the teams in Pennsylvania. In a statement earlier Friday, Pitt said players on both teams would be outfitted with face coverings, but Penn State and the NFL's Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles all believed they would be exempted from the rules, forcing Wolf's office to clarify.
Last week, Pitt's game against Georgia Tech was postponed after both schools experienced coronavirus issues.